Afghan woman artist driven out by Taliban, finds refuge in India

Afghan woman artist driven out by Taliban, finds refuge in India

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Mumbai 23-year-old Malina Suliman has been painting since childhood and wants to become a top notch graffiti painter. But in her hometown in Kandahar in Afghanistan that has not gone down well with the Taliban. Malina has been asked to stop painting and has been threatened. Her father is in a hospital in Mumbai, recovering from what her family suspects is an attack by the Taliban to warn them.

Malina got a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Art Council Karachi in 2010. She returned to Kabul and found her niche after being introduced to contemporary art. Her works have been even been admired by Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.

But in her hometown the threat remained. The trouble, Malina says, began when she began painting political graffiti. One of those was a skeleton in a burqah to depict the state of women in Afghanistan.

Speaking to NDTV, Malina says, "A lot of questions were created in my mind. Why these things are illegal for women in Afghanistan? Why don't women have rights? What is wrong?"

Malina's father and five brothers do not want her to paint.  

She says, "A woman who stays in Malachar came to our place at six in the morning and informed my family that the Taliban is planning something. So it is better for you to leave Afghanistan."

Malina, however, is not giving up. While her father recovers from his injury, she is visiting the prestigious Sir JJ School of Art in Mumbai to hone her skills.

Shanti Vishwanathan, a final year Bachelor of Fine Arts student, says, "It's incredibly courageous, brave and pretty amazing."

Her lecturer, Srikant Khairnar, says, "Her concepts are very different. She wants to represent them and her work is also the same way."

However, Malina is not sure how life will be once she returns. She is not sure if she will be able to go back to Kandahar; though she seems to be fine with the idea of settling in the capital Kabul.
Story First Published: March 05, 2013 21:23 IST

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